Billy Bob Holland's friend, Doc Voss, has been battling against a local mining company whose operations would severely threaten the area's economy. Despite Voss's best efforts, the mining interests make it clear that they will resort to any means to see that Voss backs off. What Billy Bob doesn't know is that one member of the pro-mining faction is Wyatt Dixon, a recent prison parolee intent on exacting revenge for his imprisonment and his sister's death, both events he believes were Billy Bob's doing. His apparent support of the mining company is merely a clever cover for his plan to silence Billy Bob for good.
©2012 James Lee Burke (P)2012 Simon & Schuster Audio
"James Lee Burke writes exceptionally clean, unforced prose that has a pronounced streak of poetry in it." (The New York Times)
I teach. I Listen. I trust your judgment as a fellow listener.
Two of the most colorful characters in audio fiction are Dave Robicheaux and Cletus Purcel of James Lee Burke's Iberia Parrish. Contrast them with this novel's Billy Bob Holland and Doc Voss and the reader/listener of Bitterroot is left asking the question, "Why so flat?"
Holland and Voss might be good at slugging it out when pressed (or if the virtue of a female character has been besmirched), but their inept emotional responses to truly terrifying and painful traumas in the lives of loved ones makes them seem like a couple of dullards. Dave and Clete wear their emotions like tattoos on their biceps...that's what makes them compelling, particularly Clete whose "take no prisoners" response to threats on those he loves is raised to a unique art form.
Something else is missing from this story of Mafia Meets Western Motif; there is none of the painfully beautiful prose to describe the striking Montana landscape that listeners experience when they hear Burke's descriptions of Bayou Teche, Louisiana, or New Orleans (pre and post-Katrina). Montana may be a rugged and forested landscape in reality, but in Bitterroot it is a pancake-flat character. In Dave Robicheaux novels setting is character. In Bitterroot, Billy Bob, Doc, and the mountains from which the title derives are mere obstacles the reader must endure as he/she passes the hours waiting for the story to erode.
I like all of James Lee Burke's books. The narrator for the Billy Bob Holland series is good but he has two odd quirks: 1-He can't pronounce words that end in "r-n" correctly. He says "Northerun," "Southerun," and "lanterun." Not a huge problem, but wierd. 2-He makes Lucas sound like a total moron. I keep waiting for him to say, "Tell me about the rabbits, George," or "Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?"
I usually love his books and I am struggling to get thru part One not worth the effort will save until I am out of books and need to listen to something
A few must reads: Mr. Mercedes, Narrows Gate, Cop Town, Bomb Proof, Wayfaring Stranger, The Son (Nesbo), Dept Q series...
I find it impossible to stop listening to Burke's work. His characters are engrossing and his story telling is riveting.
As I've mentioned before, Tom Stechschulte is a fantastic narrator, just as good as Will Patton who reads most of Burke's more current works. This is the third novel in the Billy Bob Holland series. I actually tried to listen to the 2cd novel in the series called Heartwood, which is a favorite of the author, but the narrator's exaggerated southern accent was so convoluted I got a refund. It's a great illustration of how important the reader's performance is for any book.
This book and really the series is less violent and more thoughtful in mystery than the Robicheaux series.
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